1997 Asahi News Service

KYOTO, Japan's negotiators focused on the issue behind closed doors on
Dec. 3, most environmental NGOs pressed for control of all six gases
considered to blame for global warming.

For several years, HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, have been used in various
industries as alternatives to chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which were found
to be culprits in the depletion of the ozone layer. HFCs are now used as the
coolants in products such as refrigerators and air conditioners.

While those gases are kinder to the ozone layer, they have been found to
have a much stronger greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide. There are
scientific reports that HFCs have as much as 10,000 times the heat-trapping
effect of carbon dioxide. The participants in COP3 are now discussing
whether to include HFCs, CFCs and sulfurhexafluoride in an emissions target

John Passacantando, executive director of Ozone Action, a U.S. based
nongovernmental organization (NGO), said inclusion of the three additional
gases must not become an escape valve for participants to reduce their
carbon dioxide emissions cuts.

Passacantando said that he is increasingly alarmed, however, by the wide
range of industries and products using HFCs. Early action to set a reduction
target for those gases is necessary before their use grows unchecked, he

Greenpeace International held a workshop in the Kyoto International
Conference Hall on Dec. 3 to introduce substitutes for HFCs.

The workshop introduced new coolants using hydrocarbons, produced by Calor
Gas Refrigeration, a British-based gas company, the largest supplier of
bottled gas in Britain.

The company markets four hydrocarbon refrigerants under the name CARE. The
new coolants use natural substances such as propane, ethane and iso-butane,
company officials explained.

Loretta Powell, a commercial manager for the company, said that those
coolants are 17 to 30 percent more energy efficient than HFCs, and take far
less volume to cool the same quantity of materials. The gases are also sold
in volumes that make them more affordable, she added. Powell added that
hydrocarbon refrigerants can be used in HFC-using facilities and products,
so corporations can switch to the new gas with few problems.

Bill Hare, of Greenpeace International, warned that if there was no binding
target set for HFCs, the emission of the gases would increase to 5 to 10
percent of carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 in industrialized countries.

On the other hand, Andrew Kerr, of the World Wide Fund for Nature, told
Asahi Evening News that his organization is lobbying for inclusion of only
the three main greenhouse gases CO2, methane and nitrous oxide in any
agreement to be reached in Kyoto.

"To achieve success in Kyoto, three gases is enough," Kerr said. He said it
is important to keep things simple in the negotiation process, as there are
already many complicated issues involved.

While the three lesser gases have a powerful heat-trapping effect and must
be phased out in the near future, Kerr said the basic goal of the Kyoto
conference is to reach agreement on carbon dioxide emissions reductions.

The global warming phenomenon is attributed to the use of fossil fuels and 
coal, oil and natural gas and the main countermeasures recommended by
scientists are a shift from a dependence on fossil fuels to renewable
energy sources, such as wind power and solar energy, and improvements in
energy efficiency. This should be the focus of the conference, Kerr said.

Distributed by New York Times Special Features/Syndication Sales
Publication Date : 1997-12-05
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